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What Does Earth Day Mean To You?

2011 April 25

As a kid, it was easy for me to describe Earth Day.  It was the Earth’s birthday (which was conveniently the day after my own).  Now I’m older and a little wiser (I hope), but I have trouble describing exactly what Earth Day means to me.

In a way, I think Earth Day is the time for those of us who try to balance our daily lives with passion for the environment to stand up and take action.  It is a day to think about our world; how beautiful it is and what we need to do to protect it.  41 years ago, millions of people across the country stood up for the environment during the first Earth Day (an action that led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency).  Earth Day is the time to participate in festivals, environmental cleanups, tree plantings, recycling programs and community activities.

This year, the EPA celebrated Earth Day April 16-17 on the National Mall in Washington DC.  Thousands participated in our hands-on activities and thought-provoking exhibits. For example, students from the People, Prosperity and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability (P3) exhibited their sustainability projects, which included (among others) an awesome green roof system, self regulating plant watering system & the use of bone char to remove arsenic from water! The Library of Congress Young Reader’s Center  co-hosted Earth Tales, where scientists, athletes and Administrator Jackson shared environmentally themed stories with kids on the mall. At Eco Art, we sent environmental messages around the world on recycled postcards using the new go-green stamp from our friends at the Postal Service.  We even made instruments out of recycled materials and had an earth symphony on the mall with Bash the Trash!

These exhibits celebrated Earth Day by portraying the different ways that we CAN make a difference.  Whether you’re starting a compost pile, switching to CFL light bulbs, pledging to recycle more or simply buying go-green stamps (which are cradle-to-cradle certified), there are countless ways to make a statement this Earth Day.

But Earth Day is so much more than an event or a day on the calendar.  It marks our commitment to protecting our environment the generations to come.

So I ask you again, what does Earth Day mean to you? How did you celebrate? Have you made the commitment to take action every day? I have!

About the author: Joshua P. Guterman is a public affairs graduate student at American University and an intern in the EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. Aaron R Dyer permalink
    April 25, 2011

    I think I rode my bike to work that day but that was mostly a coincidence.

    Why Earth “Day”? Is that all it gets: one-day? I have plenty of lapses and non-environmentally friendly practices, but surely it’s the small gestures on a regular basis that make more of a difference than a day to be extra-careful. For my part, I:

    -Have owned and used canvas (not PVC) grocery bags since 2005
    -Have ridden my bike to work 2-3 days a week since 2007
    -Have been composting since 2008
    -Switched to CFLs in 2005 and I have yet to replace one
    -Use a push-reel mower
    -Don’t buy plastic-bottled beverages or water

    Etc. Earth Day is a great focal point, and I wish I was able to implement the grander projects others have promoted. But it would be nice for everyone to do the little things, every time.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    April 25, 2011


  3. Evi permalink
    June 7, 2011

    take a bath everyday, clean up the environment around us,
    everyday, not just in 1 day

  4. calin puscas permalink
    August 21, 2012

    Since the birth of tourism on July 5, 1841 – first “trip” on the Earth – organized by Thomas Cook in Derbyshire, England, tourism has meant something more than just “collecting money from people”.
    What visionary Thomas Cook wanted, was to share travel experiences with his kind and give them the desire and opportunity to discover the Earth on which they live.
    Leaving the yard is just the first step in a journey that can enrich your life.
    Where do your “first step” get you? There is a place of luxury or just a green pasture with a clear sky above?
    Do we need all the “gizmo’s of the fresh new world”? Or just we put our boots on and step on the dirt?
    There is a tendency in the world to have a more natural way in the looking and searching for our “lost paradise”, but nevertheless, the tehnical wonders of this millenium could also help humans to reach places that otherwise will remain unknowned and unappreciated.

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